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(Note: In 1981, someone gave me a booklet on “Baptism in the name of Jesus Christ.” It was defending the Jesus only doctrine (one person in the Godhead) and affirming that baptism is not into the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but in the name of Jesus only. In this article, I quote from that booklet and respond by showing passages that contradict this teaching.)
The author (Jim Farmer) teaches that the Holy Spirit is Jesus. He said, "Now look. The four gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were written to establish our faith in Christ. Acts of the apostles teaches us what the apostles did under the direct guidance of the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, through them" (p. 14). On page six, he said that Peter was "filled with the Holy Ghost (Word of God)." Since he capitalized "Word" I suppose he is using it in the sense of John 1:1, referring to Jesus.
JESUS IS NOT THE HOLY SPIRIT
1. One verse is enough to answer this error." And whosoever shall speak against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in that which is to come" (Mt. 12:32). If a man could be forgiven for speaking against the SON, but not for speaking against the HOLY SPIRIT, clearly the Holy Spirit is not the Son. That should be enough proof, but there is much more.
2. Jesus said: "But the comforter, even the Holy Spirit, whom the FATHER will send in MY name..." (Jn. 14:26). The Holy Spirit would be sent from the Father "in the name" (by the authority or request) of the Son. That is THREE persons, or Jesus was saying that He would send Himself from Himself. In verse 16 of the same chapter, Jesus said: "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter..." If there was no other Comforter than Himself, Jesus was misleading the apostles. When He used the word another, He used the Greek word allos which “expresses a numerical difference and denotes another of the same sort” (W.E. Vine).
3. When Jesus was baptized, the SPIRIT descended as a dove, and the FATHER said, "this is my beloved SON, in whom I am well pleased." The Jesus only doctrine has Jesus on earth, also descending from heaven in the form of a dove, and speaking to himself from heaven to commend himself. That is not Bible doctrine!
The writer teaches that the Father is Jesus. In arguing that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are titles of Jesus, he says: "I am a father, I'm a son; and I'm a husband. But none of these is my name." Then he said: "Let us light a candle and speak of it as the father, call that the flame if you may. Then call the light that the flame gives off the Son and separate it if you can" (p. 17).
JESUS IS NOT THE FATHER
1. Using his illustration, I would say; I am a father, but I am not my own father. I am a son, but not my own son, and I am a husband, but not my own husband! His illustration makes Jesus His own Father and His own Son. The Bible does not teach that.
2. The gospel of John is filled with verses that show a distinction between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Let us notice a few of them. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was WITH God, and the Word WAS God" (1:1). Jesus is God the Son, but this says that He was with God, which shows a separate Being. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son...For God sent not the Son into the world to judge the world..." (3:16,17). It was the Son who died on the cross, not God the Father. The Son cried: "MY God, My God, why hast THOU forsaken Me?" (Mt. 27:46). He said, ”I can of mine own self do nothing; as I hear, I judge: and My judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the FATHER which hath sent me. If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true. There is ANOTHER that beareth witness of Me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of Me is true...And the Father Himself, which hath Me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His shape” (5:30-32,37). They were looking at, and listening to the Son, but Jesus said that they had not heard nor seen the Father.
How can people honestly read these passages and still say that the Son is the Father? "Yea and in your law it is written, that the witness of TWO men is true. I am he that beareth witness of Myself, and the FATHER that sent me beareth witness of Me” (8:17,18). Is there one witness, or two in these verses? “So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up His eyes, and said Father, I thank Thee that Thou heardest Me" (11:41). When Jesus lifted up his eyes and prayed to the Father, was He praying to Himself? He said, “My Father is greater than I" (14:28). “These things spake Jesus; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, FATHER, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that the Son may glorify Thee" (17:1). If Jesus was His own Father, why would He have deceived those people into believing that His Father was in heaven? "Neither for these only do I pray, but for them also that believe on me through their word; that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in us: that the world may believe that Thou didst Me" (17:20,21). If the Father and Son are one person, then believers are one person! Jesus said to Mary, after His resurrection, "Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended unto the FATHER, but go unto My brethren, and say to them, I ascend unto MY FATHER, and YOUR FATHER, and My God and your God" (20:17). If Jesus meant that He was His own Father, why would not his "brethren" in this verse, be their own Father? Read it carefully. There are many other passages in this one gospel that show a distinction, but these should be sufficient to clearly show that God the Son is not God the Father.
3. There is a sense in which the name of Jesus is "everlasting Father" (Isa. 9:6). He is Creator of all things (Jn.1:1-3), therefore is Father of creation. He is also said to have children (Heb. 2:13), therefore would be Father in this sense. But no passage teaches that Jesus is His own Father as Oneness believers teach.
4. There is a sense in which Jesus and the Father are one. No one denies this, but that does not prove that they are the same person. They are ONE in nature (Deity), just as all men are one in nature (one humanity) (Acts 17:26). Believers are to be one just as the Father and Son are one (Jn. 17:20,21). There is one humanity, but many human beings. There is one God (Deity), but three Divine Beings.
5. There is a sense in which those who saw the Son, saw the Father (Jn. 14:7-10). Yet, there is a sense in which no man hath seen God at any time" (Jn. 1:18; 1 Jn. 4:12). God, the Son, became a man and thus showed man what God in the form of man would be and do (Mt. 1:23; Col. 2:9). He fully revealed, or represented the Father to man, but the Father remained in heaven (Mt. 6:9; 7:21; 12:50; 18:19; Jn. 16:28; 20:17).
The writer referred to a third century advocate of his theory named Sabellius. Those who believed Jesus to be the only person in the Godhead were called Sabellians, because he taught the theory. The author said: "Here is their explanation. At one time this divine being was God the Creator, at another time he was Jesus the Redeemer, and at another time he was the Holy Spirit or the sustainer of the universe. Beloved, This is the only way under heaven and upon earth that there can be one Lord and his name one. Zech. 14:9" (p.16).
SABELLIANISM IS FALSE
1. Sabellius taught that Jesus was the Father at one time, the Son at another and the Holy Spirit at another. Arius, in the early part of the fourth century, taught that the Father is the only Divine Being and that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are not God. (This theory is believed by Jehovah's Witnesses today.) Both theories are false.
2. The Bible says: "Whosoever goeth onward and abideth not in the teaching of Christ hath not God: he that abideth in the teaching hath both the Father and the Son" (2 Jn. 9). This was written after the Son had redeemed man and had ascended to heaven. John said that those who obeyed Christ had "both the Father and the Son."
3. "Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: he that confesseth the Son hath the Father also. If that which ye heard from the beginning abide in you, ye also shall abide in the Son and in the Father” (1 Jn. 2:23,24). How can this be true if there is only one Divine Being and He is the Father at one time and the Son at another?
4. Christ is the Mediator between man and God the Father (1 Jn. 2:1,2; 1 Tim. 2:5). The Jesus only doctrine denies that Christians have a Mediator between themselves and God.
5. The passage he uses says, "And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one" (Zech. 14:9). This simply does not prove his conclusion.
a. The prophet is speaking of the rule of Christ over his kingdom, when the names of the idols would be cut off (Zech. 13:2).
b The word name in the singular may refer to more than one being. In blessing Joseph, Jacob said, "And let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac..." (Gen. 48:16). Abraham and Isaac were two beings, but their virtues, in a sense, were singular. In Gen. 5:21 we read that "God called their name Adam, in the day when they were created."
c. There is one Lord in the sense of one authority, but this does not prove Jesus only doctrine. Jesus said, "all authority hath been given unto me..." (Mt. 28:18). Who gave it to Him? The Bible plainly says that God, the Father, gave him authority (1 Cor. 15:24-28). Paul said that when the Father subjected all things to the Son, the Father himself was not subjected to Him. This whole passage is non-sense if Jesus is his own Father.
d. When Jesus said to baptize "into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" (Mt. 28:19) the word "name" is applied to three Beings. (The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia has an excellent discussion of this point under Trinity. Vol. 5, pages 3017, 3018). It basically says that the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit cannot be taken as three names of a single person, but the description of the Godhead.
e. Jesus was not giving a formula to be repeated when baptizing, but affirming that baptism puts one into a relationship with Deity - the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There is nothing wrong with saying what you are doing, but Jesus told them what to do, not what to say. The apostles were to teach, baptize and teach those baptized to do the same things. If the great commission (Mt. 28:19) did not apply to Pentecost and afterward, when did it apply? If they, and those they taught, observed all things Christ commanded them (Mt. 28:20), they baptized people into the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Mt. 28:19). If verse 19 does not apply today, neither does verse 20! What about the parallel accounts? Mark said they were to preach to every creature and “he who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mk. 16:15,16). Did that apply to Pentecost and afterward? Luke said “repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, BEGINNING AT JERUSALEM” (Lk. 24:47). If Matthew’s teaching does not apply to Pentecost and afterward, why does Mark’s and Luke’s? All of them were talking about the gospel of Christ going to the whole world, beginning from Jerusalem.
A SUMMARY OF BIBLE TEACHING ON GOD
1. The Bible does not teach that there are three human beings in the Godhead. Jesus was God in the flesh (Mt. 1:23; Phil. 2:5-9), while he was on earth, but He existed from eternity as a Spirit Being (Jn. 1:1; 4:24).
2. The Bible does not teach three Gods.
a. "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord" (Dt. 6:4). Oneness believers claim that this means "one person." The context, and other such passages, contrasts the true Deity with false gods (see vs. 12-14). God (Elohim) in this verse is plural, as it is in many O.T. passages. "In the beginning God (Elohim) created the heaven and the earth.. And God said let US make man in OUR own image, after OUR likeness...” (Gen. 1:1,26). These are plural pronouns, indicating more than one Being, but there is only one true Deity (God) and the idols are false gods.
b. We may clarify it with some comparisons. The Bible says that all human beings are "one" (Acts 17:26 ASV). There is one humanity, but many human beings. There is one Deity (Godhead) but three Divine Beings.
c. A husband and wife are to become one flesh (Gen. 2:24). They are still two persons, but in a sense are one.
d. Jesus prayed that believers “may all be one; even as thou Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us...” (Jn. 17:20,21). That is the Lord's illustration and to deny that He and the Father are distinct is to deny that believers are distinct! We are to be one, even as He and the Father are one.
3. The Bible does teach that:
a. The FATHER is GOD (Jn. 20:17), but He is not the Son (Jn. 8:16-18), nor the Holy Spirit (Jn. 14:26).
b. The SON is GOD (Jn. l:l), but He is not the Father (Jn. 14:16,17), nor the Holy Spirit (Jn. 16:13,14).
c. The HOLY SPIRIT is GOD (Acts 5:3,4), but He is not the Father (Jn. 14:26) , nor the Son (Jn. 14:16,26).
WHAT ABOUT BAPTISM IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST?
Oneness believers contend that the words “in the name of Jesus Christ” must be said when
you baptize a person. Their problem with Mt. 28:19,20 is generally the product of their misunderstanding of the Godhead. If they believed the truth about the Godhead, they would have no problem with baptism into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. On pages 10 and 11, the author said, “Therefore, the name that’s of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, must be Jesus Christ.” That simply is not true, as we have shown in these pages. The name of the Son is Jesus Christ, but the Bible does not teach that the name of the Father and the Holy Spirit is Jesus Christ.
What does it mean to baptize “in the name of Jesus Christ,” or “in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 2:38; 8:16)? To act in a person’s name is to act by his authority (Lk. 6:46; Acts 3:6; 4:7). One who claims to act in the Lord’s name but does not do what the Lord commanded is not doing what he claims to be doing. Paul said, “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col. 3:17). This means that what I teach and practice must be authorized by Christ. When I sing praises to God, I do so by the authority (in the name) of Christ, although I do not say those words before each song. When I help the needy, love my wife, discipline my children, etc., I do it by the authority of Jesus. When we baptize, we are to do what Jesus authorized. A person who baptizes unbelievers, or sprinkles believers may say he is doing it “in the name of Christ,” but he is not doing what Jesus taught. The person who denies that baptism is into a relationship with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, is not doing what Jesus taught His disciples, and those whom they baptized, to practice.
Copyright Midway Church of Christ 2014 This page last modified July 03, 2014